I am now all finished teaching at the Hall, and enjoying sometime relaxing in the lovely drawing room before another mammoth gourmet festival called lunch! The food is wonderful, all homemade from the soufflé 's to the bread and the incredible puddings!
The last sister I taught was a Hungarian lady with whom I have worked before, but who feels she cannot participate a great deal in chapel because she simply has 'no voice', therefore nothing to offer. I hoped she would come for a session because over the three years I have been coming I have felt sure that there is a voice in there somewhere.
I persuaded her to sing a Hungarian folk song to me this morning, and she did so with much glee and joy. She explained that it a song about a boy who looks after horses and takes them down to the river where he meets his girlfriend, and she is wearing a skirt with 13 frills. This it seems, in old Hungary was the epitome of attire to catch a boy! Anyhow, she sang it perfectly, with expression and in tune, but so very low she was singing bottom e flats below middle C ! I felt greatly vindicated, as I had always thought that the Office music was simply too high for her, and that in fact she was a natural, excellent and true contralto (and we know how rare they are!!!).
I transposed down some of the music we had been singing and lo and behold she could sing it all. Well I thought she would weep, it was like a small flood gate opening, and for the first time in her religious life she could sing the prayers.
It is unrealistic, I told her, that the community music will ever be low enough for her, but we went through some of it, and I pointed out where exactly she could join in, and where to think or mime the words, so that she felt as though she was still singing and praying the whole section. It was like a revelation, she went away feeling that she did have a voice after all. Unlike in my teaching, where I can transpose something into the correct key for the singer, in religious life the keys and modes are almost wholly set, and in most cases unalterable.
Even singing half the psalm or the canticle was a million % improvement, and a great amount of liberation. It is those moments that keep me coming back. Not necessarily the teaching of the great and good, the aspirant and the clever, but the simple release given to someone by telling them that it is normal to have a specific voice, and it means they can shine when the notes are too low/high for the majority.
Isten legyen veled!
(God go with you ~ Hungarian)